Todd Greenberg stood down as NRL chief executive after four years in the role. (AAP: Joel Carrett)
Rugby league Immortal Mal Meninga says former NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has been made a scapegoat for the financial problems the league is facing during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Mal Meninga says Todd Greenberg does not deserve all the blame for the NRL’s financial position
- Meninga says other members of the NRL executive must share the responsibility
- Chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo will act as interim chief executive until a full-time replacement is appointed
Greenberg announced on Monday afternoon he was stepping down as chief executive, a position he held for four years, with the NRL describing the decision as a mutual agreement.
Meninga said Greenberg was not solely responsible for the NRL’s financial woes, and he believed other members of the league’s executive were also at fault.
“For me, if he is to blame, everyone has to be to blamed about where the game has gone over the past few years,” Meninga told Fox League.
“And in my opinion I think it [the game] is looking really good. I know there have been some financial issues at the moment but does that go on Todd?
“It’s like a coach. If a club is not being successful, you can’t look at the administration, you can’t look at the players so you got the coach and he gets the sack.
“Because he’s is the easy one, the easy option for you. I would assume it’s the same with the game.
“There are a lot of people around Todd that make some tough decisions through the year.
“The CFO [chief financial officer], the football manager, the executive. And then all of a sudden the head guy falls on his sword.”
Greenberg’s departure came after months of pressure from clubs and the game’s broadcast partners surrounding his role, with the NRL struggling to cope with the financial fallout from the shutdown of the season because of coronavirus.
He had largely taken a back seat to Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys since the NRL was suspended last month, highlighted when he was left out of last week’s talks with broadcasters, the Nine Network and Fox Sports.
Nine’s outburst almost a fortnight ago, when it accused the NRL of financial “mismanagement”, was largely focused on Greenberg’s role as chief executive.
Nine said the NRL had wasted “hundreds of millions” of dollars it had invested in the game, while describing the league’s executive as a “bloated head office” that ignored the needs of the clubs and the players.
It had been reported V’landys was looking to remove Greenberg as chief executive prior to the coronavirus outbreak amid speculation they did not enjoy a smooth working relationship.
Meninga wants NRL ‘on the same page’
Meninga said Greenberg’s departure was untimely, given the NRL needed to show unity as it grappled with the impact of coronavirus.
“I am upset in a way because why do we have to pick on him now?” said Meninga, who worked with Greenberg in his capacity as the Australian men’s coach.
“We are going through this crisis where we need to be all together.
“We need to sit on the same page and move forward together … instead of bagging people and making some accusations about people.
“Let’s get on the same page and get the game back on the field.”
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Former NRL coach Matthew Elliott said Greenberg produced mixed results during his tenure as NRL chief executive.
“I think he definitely played a part in over-resourcing the administration of the game,” he told ABC Grandstand.
“I would believe that he probably needed to make some tough decisions about the different tiers and levels of the sport as well.
“I think if you balance it up he did some really good things and some things I would have preferred to see go in a different direction.”
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The NRL’s chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo will replace Greenberg on an interim basis, before a long-term appointment is made.
Abdo is considered to be a frontrunner for the full-time role, while several NRL club chief executives have also been touted as possible replacements.
South Sydney’s Blake Solly, Brisbane’s Paul White, Canberra’s Don Furner and Melbourne’s Dave Donaghy are among those chief executives who have been mentioned in media reports as contenders.
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